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How to Be Successful as an Intern Abroad

How to Be Successful as an Intern Abroad

Whether you’re at the application stage, or already enrolled and counting down the days until your international internship begins, you’ll want to make sure you’re going to get the most out of your time abroad.

This will be completely different to an internship back home. It will be a unique adventure, and it may take you a while to get used to a new lifestyle. But hey, don’t worry. Follow these 7 tips, and we´re sure you’ll be successful as an intern abroad.

7 Secrets of Successful Interns Abroad and How to Use Them

Every year, we ask our alumni for feedback on:

  • What they wish they knew before embarking on an internship abroad
  • What they learned and how they developed during their international experience
  • What they would do differently

Prepare to push your experience to the next level with insider tips from students who have gone before you.

1. Communication, Communication, Communication

It’s time to hone in on those communication skills. Did you know there are big differences between communication styles in the eastern and western cultures?

Learn more about high and low context cultures as well as communicating efficiently across cultures, in order to be successful as an intern abroad:

[East vs West: 10 Corporate Cultural Differences All Interns Abroad Should Know]

2. Keep a Positive Attitude

Getting frustrated often won´t do you any good. You should keep communication open when working in a foreign country. Remaining optimistic is a must. You may face unexpected and challenging situations, and you should focus on what you can learn from them.

Our 2018 alumni, Nathan Payonk, talks about what he learned during his experience in Spain in this testimonial:  How does the work environment in Europe differ from what you’re used to?

3. Be Proactive

Proactivity is key to being a successful intern abroad. Ask a ton of questions, show your interest, and take initiative. Go above and beyond: the more you show what you’re capable of, the more responsibility you will be trusted with (and the more you will learn)!

By showing a positive attitude, you’ll make a great first impression. By being proactive, you´ll leave a lasting impression.

If you finish any tasks given to you, ask for feedback. How can you improve what you’ve been working on? Can you contribute to anything else? Most firms will appreciate having an international student perspective or opinion on things. Don’t be shy!

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4. Show Everyone You’re Ready to Learn

Another secret of successful interns abroad? Always show determination. It’s okay to make mistakes, but show confidence in what you provide. Remain open to developing new skills that you weren’t expecting to – every little bit of knowledge you take back home with you is a plus.

Soft skills are just as important (if not more) as hard skills. You will develop SO MANY transferable skills during your time abroad that can be transferred to SO MANY future professional experiences.

5. Immerse Yourself in Your New City: Cultural Awareness

Being “professional” has different meanings depending on where you’re located. A tip from our alumni? Be aware of cultural elements which differ from place to place and will affect you directly in the workplace, such as punctuality in meetings.

We encourage you to take a short test and discover what your cultural profile is. This way, you’ll get an insight and understanding of other people’s behaviors:

[What’s your cultural profile?]

Finally, we recommend that you make yourself aware of the political and economical situation in your host country before you depart! This will help you to ask more informed questions and have more personal conversations.

6. Adaptability and Open Mindedness

Adapt to other personalities and working methods. A successful intern abroad needs to be flexible. For example, working extra hours is pretty normal in periods of high workload in some locations.

Avoid negative comparisons between your host and home countries. Food, religion, thought patterns and social habits may seem strange, but keep an open mind and allow yourself time to understand them.

7. Say Yes – Get to Know Your Work Colleagues

Connect with your co-workers. Network the heck out of your company! Internships overseas are also about having fun after work hours. Make sure you still make it to work every day, but don’t stay at home too much. Take weekend trips. Hang out with other interns who will be experiencing similar culture shock and are looking for people like you to relate to.

Go on. Step outside. It’s okay!


Employer Insight

We asked Daniel Foth, co-founder and CEO of Celebreak, what are 3 traits or skills that make a successful international intern in the workplace. This is what he said:

“3 must-have skills in my company are first flexibility, then the passion, and most importantly, being proactive.”  – Daniel Foth

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Take these tips and go show off your talent on the global stage! Remember: every intern, company, country, and industry has its unique characteristics.

After gaining some awesome professional experience, crown your resume with your new accomplishment (and references!).

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